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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

EDUCATION IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE        79

took a new direction. To arrest the decrease of population in
Italy, they lent large sums of money to the farmers, and arranged
that the interest paid by them should go to finance a scheme
by which yearly allowances (aKmenta), to the number of five
thousand, would be provided for boys and girls up to the com-
pletion of their education at eighteen and fourteen respectively.
This endowment was maintained and extended in subsequent
reigns.

For the most part, the rulers in this period seem to have taken
little interest in the educational concerns of the Roman world
outside Italy. The chief exception was made in favour of
Alexandria, which, under the patronage of Augustus and his
immediate successors, who sought to emulate the achievements
of Alexander and the first Ptolemys, became for a time the
chief seat of learning in the Empire. Once again scholarship
flourished in the Museum and in other schools outside of it.
Many of the Alexandrians migrated to Rome to act as teachers,
but even then a great many scholars were left to carry on the
traditional studies of the school: among them, " grammarians
who combined the study of rhetoric with that of philology and
criticism, historians who were also geographers and polymaths,
philosophers of whom some taught oratory, others ethics, politics
and religion, mathematicians who studied astronomy and mech-
anics as well as arithmetic and geometry, and finally physicians
who combined natural history and botany with anatomy."*
But Alexandria in her renaissance had changed her character to
a considerable extent. In accordance with the demands of the age,
rhetoric and philosophy, which had previously been of minor
consequence, became the chief subjects of study, and with the
coming of large numbers of students from over the seas she
developed into a great centre of instruction, more like Athens
(which was now in temporary eclipse) than the earlier Alexandria.
The ground was already being prepared for the coming struggle
between paganism and Christianity,

In interesting contrast with the encouragement of Greek
learning in Alexandria was the establishment of Latin schools
in the north of Africa and in Gaul (probably the creation of
Julius Caesar), which continued to flourish and to produce
worthy scholars for many centuries.

* M. Matter, Histoire de VScole d*Alexandria, i, 371.